Over the last decade the formation of specialist community teams has been an increasing trend in the over-all picture of service provision for a number of client groups. Community Alcohol Teams (CATs) and Community Mental Handicap Teams (CMHTs) are the most widely-established examples of this trend, with Community Drug Teams (CDTs) and Community Elderly Teams (CETs) being a more recent phenomenon. Whilst there is a growing literature relating to CMHTs and CATs, little has been written about Community Drug Teams. Most of the published work relates to process (that is, difficulties in setting up and running teams) rather than to outcome issues. Those studies which have attempted to evaluate outcome have tended to focus on the impact of community teams on primary workers rather than on evaluating the extent to which this form of service delivery is beneficial to clients. Where benefits to clients are asserted these tend to be couched in terms of improved access to less stigmatising services rather than in terms of improved outcome, an area which remains to be vigorously evaluated.
The development of specialist community teams is occurring against a background of increasing concern about the entire concept of community care which has been criticised by both the Commons Social Services Committee in 1985 1 and the Audit Commission in 1986. 2 Many of the problems identified by the Audit Commission in the general organisation of community care are also referred to in the community team literature. They concern fundamental questions about the way in which services are organised and managed. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the majority of specialist community teams they provide a series of case studies which enable some of the difficulties resulting from attempts at interagency co-operation and management to be examined. They also provide an insight into some of the difficulties and strengths of